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Xenus Interview

Following a successful showing of Xenus at this year’s ECTS in London, we’ve managed to pin down Alexander Khrutsky, PR-Manager at Deep Shadows to find out more about their title set in the depths of Columbia.
Can you tell us a little about Deep Shadows and the team working on Xenus.
In 2001 Sergey Zabaryanskiy and Roman Lut finished working on Codename: Outbreak. They use their own game engine – Vital Engine 1. After that they found Deep Shadows company and started working on Xenus. Now they are the main body of out team. Today, Xenus team consists of nine persons – each with experience in game developing.
Can you tell us a more about the game’s story and your inspiration behind The game and concept?
The idea of the game was born in May 2001. It was decided that next project would be PC 3D Action RPG game that takes place in the nearest future on the huge not-subdivided territory. We don’t want to make another 3D shooter. We wanted to simulate investigation process in the world, where there are a lot of contra forces, that fights for the power. Colombia – this is a country with long and rich history, beautiful nature and very unstable political situation in our days. There are a lot of counter forces in this country. That situation is fit to our game conception.
The game story begins when Kevin Myers receives a call from magazine his sister works for. He is told that she didn’t contact them more than 10 days and they are afraid she missed in Colombia during her journalist investigation. Kevin departures to this country to rescue her. You must rescue the sister and keep alive. The scenery that looks banal in the beginning step-by-step gets mixed up and finally becomes semi-mystic.
Xenus is said to add RPG elements to the game play, how will these work exactly?
Player will have nearly 20 different parameters. Your moving speed, shooting accuracy, time of weapon reloading will depends from your stats. We choose the skill-based system, so you will improve that skill that you use a lot. Your will be able to speak with any person in a game. There are a lot of persons with more than 100 phrases in a dialog. Most of problem will have more than two way of solution.

The game world is very large and all open ended. What were the deciding factors to create an open ended game world?
Game will take action in huge territory – more than 650 sq. km. Our engine is good as to open as to enclosed space. There are no "locations" in Xenus. You may freely move on the territory. You will lay your way thought jungles, towns, mountains, swamps, river banks, military bases, rail stations, hidden plants and airports, Indian villages, ancient ruins and some others. All types of environment is full-interactive and realistic – you can meet birds in jungles, lizards in mountains, rats in towns, etc.
What sort of navigation aids will players have in the game world?
Compass, map and even maybe some satellite navigation system to discover hidden enemies. But it will cost a lot.
What can you tell us about the game’s characters and NPCs?
The world of Xenus is full of interaction. Investigation requires to gather the facts and then to make a conclusion. You will need to speak with great number of different NPC – every with his own character – to move ahead through the plot line. Also, you will be able to take somebody with you to help in hard missions.
What sort of weapons can players expect to get their hands on?
There are nearly twenty types of weapons that you can use during the game from cold weapons to heavy. Among them Desert Eagle, AK-47, SVD, etc. You can upgrade any of your weapons – improve accuracy, ammo capacity, rate of fire, reload time. Also, you may upgrade some weapons with such things as silencers, optic and lazer sights and some other. All this cost money, of course.
You mention items in the game will cost money. How will players be able to fund their purchases?
The main way to earn money – to take and accomplish missions from one of six country counter forces. For any of accomplished missions you will receive amount money. That amount will depends from force attitude to you – rather attitude to you higher, rather more money you get.
In Xenus you’ll be able to use vehicles. What have you got lined up for budding pilots or drivers?
There will be nearly 10 types of vehicles in the game – different cars, buses, tanks, helicopters, even motor boats. You can sit on driver and on passenger seat. We try to make cars physics as close to reality as possible. Now we end testing of vehicle physics and we are fully satisfied with it.
As we understand it you are using your own game engine, can you tell us more about that?
Xenus is based on the second iteration of Vital Engine. Vital Engine 2 is significantly improved version of the first version. We completely rewrite render code and significantly changed physics code. Here are the main features of the engine:

1. Unique technology of rendering huge (but very detailed) territory 50x50km
2. Skeleton animation with blending between up to 3 bones
3. Facial animation
4. Multilayered textures 512×512
5. 5000 faces per character
6. Lightmaps
7. View-independent progressive mesh for models and view-dependent progressive mesh for level geometry
8. Rigid body physics comparable with Math Engine (a set of predefined models: car, helicopter, box, player).

What will the multiplayer game involve and will there be different multiplayer game modes?
Cooperative, CTF and Death-match will definitely be in the game. Cooperative will have RPG element, certanily. As for other modes we have time to decide what to include better.


How much game play time on average can we expect in the single player game?
It hard to say how is the long is the game while it unfinished. But certainly, Xenus is not “one evening game” – depending of playing style it wiil take from 50 to 150 hours of playing, I think.

Finally, is there anything you would like to add or tell us about Xenus?
Thanks for your interview, we will make our best to justify hopes for players that wait for our game.


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